Monday, February 15, 2010

Japan: Osaka

While in Kyoto, we took a day trip to Osaka, Japan's second biggest city, to meet Phil's friends. Our first impression of Osaka was pretty poor; it was crowded and lacking the orderliness and cleanliness of other cities we had visited. However, we did have the best cheese cake we ever had. We found it in a small cafe beside Luise Vuitton (very expensive), and it was a strawberry cheese cake with fresh fruit and addictive strawberry sauce.

The real highlight of the day was at night, when we meet up with Phil's friend, Waka and Hitotsugu Takagi. Hitosugu is a hedge fund manager, father of two, high ranking jujitsu member (second in command at Phil's dojo), and disciple of the last surviving ninjatsu. He was also the most layback, down to earth dude who loved to party. He took us to a local sushi restaurant, one we would had never found ourselves, and introduced us to the real sushi cuisine. The restaurant looked like a dive, outside and inside, but the sushi was fresh and delicious. In Canada, Dennis and I found uni, sea urchin, rather repulsive, but in this restaurant changed our impression of uni. It was buttery, soft, and delicious. We had squid, octopus, local fish with strange names, and whale was available. Sushi pieces came with big pieces of fish and the rolls had more fish than rice. We order directly from the sushi chef, and the bill was tallied using these colored blocks at our table.
After sushi, we migrate to another restaurant to have more alcohol. Here we discovered Hakaisan, a saki brewed by the same family for generations. One of Dennis's hero, Uesugi Kenshin (who happened to be an alcoholic) drank this saki 400 years ago. Can you imagine how excited Dennis was when he found out? We started ordering every saki on the list from the top to the bottom. I had vague memory of the rest of the night.

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